New Zealand Warriors v St George Illawarra Dragons Friday, April 20, 6pm (AEST) Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
The Warriors suffered their first loss of the year last week, going down to the Broncos by 27-18, and will be looking to bounce back against the high-flying Dragons. St George Illawarra is the only undefeated side in the NRL after the Warriors loss to the Broncos and will be looking to maintain their unbeaten run when they travel to Auckland. The Warriors are set to be without Leivaha Pulu and Solomona Kata, who both picked up injuries against the Broncos. Meanwhile, a few Dragons have been laying low this week with a stomach bug doing the rounds, but none of them are expected to miss the clash against the Warriors.
FormThe Warriors opened the season with five straight wins but following their loss to Brisbane they are down to third on the ladder. New Zealand have been the second best attacking team in the premiership while they rate fifth defensively. The Warriors have scored 18-plus in every game. St George Illawarra are undefeated this year and have set the standard with the best attack and second best defence. The Saints have posted 30-plus in four games.
Key MatchupRoger Tuivasa-Sheck v Matthew Dufty: RTS made a blistering start to the year but has tailed off in his last few matches against the Cowboys and Broncos. He’ll relish coming up against the Dragons fullback Matt Dufty, who looks to be one of the breakout stars this year. Dufty picked up two Dally M points in win over the Sharks and was arguably the best player on the field, scoring a double and making three line-breaks. The Wolf is looking forward to this battle!
Stats That Matter– New Zealand are 5-1 ATS with a 4-2 under record while St George Illawarra are 5-1 ATS with a 3-3 total record. – St George Illawarra have dominated New Zealand throughout their history with 21 wins in the 26 matches. – The Warriors have won just 1 of their last 14 matches against the Dragons since 2008. – The Saints have a 6-4 all-time edge at Mt Smart. – Four of the last five matches have tallied less than 36 points. – The Warriors are 15-21 ATS at Mt Smart over the last four seasons, including a 4-12 ATS record at night (10-6 over). – The Warriors are 8-14 ATS at Mt Smart off a loss 6-11 ATS at the ground after conceding 25 or more points. – The Dragons are 33-17 under away from their suburban home grounds over the last four years, including 18-6 under at night. – The Saints are 20-14 ATS with a 23-11 under after conceding 20. – The Saints have covered 8 of their last 10 after three straight wins.
Final ThoughtsThe Wolf is really looking forward to this clash between two of the in-form sides in the NRL. It’s hard to go past the Red V in this one against a Warriors side missing a few through injury. The Dragons have dominated New Zealand throughout their history with 21 wins in the 26 matches, while the Warriors have won just 1 of their last 14 matches against the Dragons since 2008. The stats don’t lie!
How It’s Shaping UpSt George Illawarra by 2
Recommended BetsBest: St George Illawarra ($1.80) Value: St George Illawarra & Under 40.5 ($3.50) First Tryscorer: Paul Vaughan